The latest study to throw cold water over the Shroud of Turin's claim to authenticity has recently been published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. And it all comes down to the pattern of blood splatter.
The famous shroud has sat in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, for centuries. Some claim the 4.3-meter (14-foot) linen sheet is evidence that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. Others think it is a medieval sham.
The whole debate was almost put to bed in the 1980s when a team of researchers used a radiocarbon-dating technique to determine its age, placing its origin between 1260 and 1390 CE. Since then, some people have claimed the experiment was based on a patch added to the ancient shroud during the Middle Ages.
As such, no one has been able to prove conclusively that it really is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ – or that it is a fake.
Now, researchers from the University of Pavia, Italy, have used modern forensic techniques to analyze the blood patterns on the shroud in the first study of its kind. Taking a crime scene approach, the team simulated blood flows with the help of both a mannequin and a live volunteer, who (it might be worth adding) was not harmed in the process.
The team ran seven bloodstain tests using real and synthetic blood on different body parts, including the chest, hand, forearm, and lower back. During these tests, blood was pumped around the model and released at the various wound points shown on the shroud. This enabled the researchers to see at what angle the blood should naturally flow when left to gravity.
“This is the kind of forensic work done all the time in police investigations,” Liverpool John Moores University forensic scientist Matteo Borrini told BuzzFeed News.
“Even a crucified or hanging person should leave a distinct blood pattern on the cloth, which would be fascinating information to have.”
However, the blood patterns that would be expected and the blood patterns you can see on the Shroud of Turin are different.
The blood splatters on the shroud could not be replicated from any one pose. Instead, the angle of gravity that would be required to make the patterns on the shroud varied by body part. For example, blood marks from the hand would suggest they were held at a 45-degree angle, whereas those from the forearms would suggest that they had been held at a 90-degree angle.
Or as Borroni told Buzzfeed, “This is just not what happens to a person on a cross.”
However, the study does rely on the fact that the body was kept in one position at all times and it may be worth probing further to see what would happen if a body had been carried in the shroud.
Given the conclusion, it is slightly surprising that the purpose of the experiment was to find out whether the shroud suggested a T-shaped or Y-shaped crucifixion, rather than whether it happened at all. The result so far: no evidence of crucifixion, T-shaped, Y-shaped, or otherwise, can be found in the cloth.
[H/T: BuzzFeed News]